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ISW: hasty start and limited manpower hinder Russian progress in Kharkiv offensive 

Russian forces likely launched their Kharkiv offensive prematurely, using an understrength force, in an attempt to establish a foothold before the arrival of resumed US military aid to Ukraine, which was approved in April after 6-months delays.
Ukrainian soldiers
Ukrainian soldiers Source: General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces
ISW: hasty start and limited manpower hinder Russian progress in Kharkiv offensive 

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) suggests that the premature start of Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast, coupled with limited manpower, undermined the success of the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv direction.

Russian forces likely initiated the Kharkiv offensive earlier than intended, using an understrength force and exploiting Ukrainian shortages of weapons and ammunitions due to delays in delivering the US aid, which was finally approved in April, according to ISW.

Russian forces managed to surprise Ukrainian forces on 10 May and made tactically significant gains in less-defended areas of Kharkiv Oblast.  This happened due to improperly prepared Ukrainian defenses in the area and the abandonment of Ukrainian positions in the Lyptsi and Vovchansk directions, allowing Russians to advance to a second line of Ukrainian defenses.

However, Russian limited manpower in the Kharkiv direction prevented them from achieving “rapid gains and a deeper penetration,” as per ISW.

Russian forces launched their offensive with roughly 35,000 personnel as a part of the Northern Grouping of Forces, despite Ukrainian sources indicating that the Russian military intends to concentrate a total of 50,000 to 70,000 troops in the area, according to the ISW.

The ISW suggests that the Russian military command may be waiting to intensify offensive operations and pursue a second phase because its plans require a grouping of 50,000 to 70,000 personnel. 

However, the ISW also notes that even at the upper limit of its reported end strength, the Northern Grouping of Forces will lack the necessary manpower to conduct a successful operation to envelop, encircle, or seize Kharkiv City.

Earlier, UK intelligence reported that Russia deployed units from its Africa Corps to the Kharkiv offensive in Ukraine, trying to reinforce its war efforts and limited manpower in the area.

ISW also reported that Russian forces expanded the active combat zone by about 70 km since the beginning of their northern Kharkiv offensive. 

Russia aims to stretch Ukrainian defenses and create a buffer zone to protect Russia’s Belgorod Oblast from shelling.

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